I’m going to make a confession here: I don’t think I’m ever going to make my own yogurt unless the zombie apocalypse comes and I can no longer buy my favorite Greek yogurt at the store. My husband is a scientist, and his courses on immunology, parasitology, and microbiology in school turned him into something of a germaphobe. He has put his foot down: no fermenting milk products on the counter. He doesn’t even like it when I make lacto-fermented pickles!
And that’s OK. My plastic tub of yogurt isn’t going to win me any eco-foodie street cred, but it keeps the peace in my home, and that’s what’s important.
What I’m trying to say is this: no one here is going to look down on you if you decide not to bake your own bread, make your own yogurt and brew your own kombucha. Only you can decide what makes sense to DIY for your family, and you shouldn’t feel guilty even if the answer is “nothing.”
That being said, there are a few things that are pretty darned simple to do yourself and will save you money.
My favorite? Beans. Once I realized that I could cook beans in my crockpot with almost no hands-on effort, I was a changed woman. I gave up (almost entirely) canned beans, mostly because I am concerned about BPA—and the only brand I know of that is BPA-free (Eden Organic) is way more expensive. Dry beans, on the other hand, are pretty darn cheap and easy to make. The only caveat is that you have to plan ahead.
The same is true for my other favorite DIY recipes, sandwich bread and tomato sauce. My favorite brand of organic, whole wheat, locally produced sandwich bread (Rudi’s Organic Bakery) costs, on average, more than $4 a loaf ($2 when I can find a great sale). I can make a loaf of bread at home for less than $1 a loaf. Of course, it took me years (literally) to find the perfect recipe and master the art of baking bread at 5,000 feet. But now I do it all the time. (Check out my first video blog with the recipe and step-by-step instructions to bake your own sandwich bread at home!)
A jar of organic spaghetti sauce can cost upwards of $4 as well. But my favorite naked tomato sauce recipe costs just pennies when you make it in the summer to deal with the crazy glut of tomatoes from your yard and then can or freeze it.
Here’s the important part, though: if it is costing you more than $4 worth of sanity (only you can put a price on your sanity!) to make that bread or cook that tomato sauce, then it isn’t worth it. Find the best option you can at the store—maybe the one with the fewest ingredients, the least amount of sugar, or heck, even the best taste—and move on with your life!
But if you’ve never tried to make your own, don’t be afraid of that, either. Try out a few DIY recipes for the products you use most, and then ask yourself honestly if it works for your family. That old adage, “time is money” is old because it’s true. Maybe you will love baking your own bread. Maybe you won’t. Don’t be afraid to admit that you need some convenience items in your life, but don’t be afraid to try to DIY, either.